Major League Baseball abandons the strict interpretation of the transfer rule

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Baseball’s new interpretation of the transfer rule — aggressively calling no-catches and no-putouts when a fielder drops the ball transferring it from his glove to his throwing hand — has caused no small amount of controversy. Plays that used to be considered catches or putouts aren’t anymore and people have gotten cranky about it.

Be cranky no more, folks: Major League Baseball has announced that, starting tonight, umpires will revert to the old, common-sense approach of determining whether a catch is a catch as opposed to the strict interpretation they’ve been employing. Now, as it always used to be, a catch, a force out or a tag will be considered legal if a fielder has control of the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after opening his glove to transfer the ball to his throwing hard. Under the new interpretation at the start of the season, players had to actually get the ball to the throwing hand. Here’s how Major League Baseball is defining the rule per its press release:

The Committee has determined that a legal catch has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Catch”), or a valid force out or tag has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Tag”), if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand.  There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch.  If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer.  The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.

The impulse for the now-defunct strict interpretation was an innocent one — we have replay now, and if you are going to review a handful of plays where the transfer rule comes into play, you have to have a bright line standard — but implementation was a problem. Kudos to Major League Baseball for doing something it hasn’t always done: admitting to a problem and fixing it on the fly, rather than waiting for the next offseason.

Mariners sign RHP reliever Trevor Gott to 1-year contract

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Michael McLoone/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners have begun the process of bolstering their bullpen by signing right-hander Trevor Gott to a one-year contract on Wednesday.

Gott appeared in 45 games last season with Milwaukee, going 3-4 with a 4.14 ERA. Gott had 44 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .204 batting average.

Gott’s signing helps fill a void created when Erik Swanson was traded to Toronto as part of the deal that brought slugger Teoscar Hernandez to Seattle earlier this month. Gott has also pitched for San Francisco, Washington and the Los Angeles Angels.

Last season with the Brewers, Gott saw significant drops in batting average against and walk percentage, while raising his strikeout percentage.

Seattle also made a front office announcement Wednesday with the promotion of Andy McKay to assistant general manager. McKay has been with the club since 2015, when he was hired as the director of player development. McKay was promoted to senior director of baseball development in November 2021.

In his new role, McKay will oversee baseball development at all levels of the organization.